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Asbestos danger in schools – Do you need an asbestos survey?

Some British schools are failing to meet their legal duty to protect their pupils from potentially fatal asbestos, a snapshot survey of 16 schools suggests.

The report by the Asbestos Training and Consultancy Association said none of the 16 schools was meeting health and safety rules on managing the substance.

Teaching unions want a full audit of the danger from asbestos, which can cause a lethal form of cancer.

The government’s policy is for schools to leave asbestos in place. The substance should be managed rather than removed, it advises. But many schools lack the resources to manage it safely, the Asbestos Training and Consultancy Association (Atac) says.

Asbestos surveys carried out by the association states that asbestos had been damaged in more than half of the schools it visited for this study.

Asbestos surveyors say that it is when asbestos is damaged or disturbed that it can be dangerous.

Though small, the survey reflects earlier research on the way schools deal with the potentially deadly material.

About 75% of Britain’s schools are thought to contain asbestos and 178 teachers are known to have died from asbestos-related illnesses, says the report.

The study follows a questionnaire sent out by the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Health and Safety Executive in 2009.

As a result of that, 34 local authorities will be investigated by the HSE, the report adds.

Published Feb 23, 2011
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Graph Contract Services Ltd, 52 Wrenthorpe Lane, Wrenthorpe, Wakefield, WF2 0PT. Tel: 07802 455049.

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